Archive for Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Here’s looking at 2004

December 29, 2004

As 2004 comes to a close, life goes on as usual in our little city in the northeast area of Kansas. Long known as the Wheat State -- Kansas -- with much assistance from mother nature, was able this year to reap a healthier batch of crops than in years past. In the Tonganoxie area, wheat was presentable, corn was a bumper crop and soybeans, some of which are still in the fields, have done well.

In fact, that's one crop whose 2004 harvest is still under way. The day after Christmas, a combine just west of Linwood stirred up a cloud of dust as it rumbled through a field, harvesting beans.

For builders, it was another active year in the Tonganoxie area. Not only are new houses and developments going up at an energetic pace, but new streets are coming on as well. It takes constant effort on the part of law enforcement officers and other emergency workers to stay apprised of the names and locations of new streets.

In Tonganoxie, voters settled the will-we-build-a-new-school conundrum in November, passing a $25.3 million school bond. This summer, architects and the construction manager hope to start the physical work on a new middle school, which will be constructed southeast Pleasant and Washington streets.

Work on the existing high school and grade school will begin later, and it's hoped that by fall 2006, some, if not all, of the new classrooms will be ready to use.

Although in recent years the Tonganoxie area has been the focus of intense growth -- another word for change -- a lot of things have remained the same.

We still have the small-town feeling. Folks still hold the door open for others at the post office.

And a handful of businesses are opened each day by the same owners that have served our community for decades.

On the world front, dozens of area residents have served, or are serving in the military in Iraq, or in other dangerous areas. Their families and their friends continually have them on their minds. And the community continues to show signs of concern, whether by the show of yellow ribbons, the packing of boxes to send overseas, the voice of prayer.

For our annual review, in this week's edition of The Mirror, as well as next week's, the local events of 2004 will be chronicled. Join us in a look back at a year in the life of our community.


The year began with a snow day. The first day of school after the holiday break was cancelled because of snow.

Near Basehor, the area's battle with methamphetamines continued. A former Linwood man died from an apparent overdose. Officials believed the man tried to hide the illegal substance -- by swallowing it.

The city finished 2003 with 102 permits for new construction. This included 59 single-family homes, 38 duplexes (76 dwelling units) and five commercial buildings. This topped the 2002 tally of 94 permits for new construction.

Tonganoxie residents began following a national trend by establishing Red Hat Societies. Linwood resident JoAnn Brown, who works in Tonganoxie, organized the first local chapter. She soon became known as the "queen mother."

The Tonganoxie City Council and City Administrator Shane Krull moved forward with plans to construct a $3.8 million sewer plant.

Sarah Kettler, a longtime teacher at Tonganoxie Elementary School, made plans for her retirement.

Two servicemen, Chris Brest and Thomas Innis, came home for a break. Brest was working as a truck driver in Iraq. Innis, an F-16 crew chief, said his next assignment would take him to Qutar.

Local children Colten and Micaela Weaver looked forward to seeing their father, Braden Weaver. But at the same time, they were grieving the death of their uncle. Braden Weaver, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, was home on emergency leave from Iraq following the death of his brother, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Aaron Weaver, who died Jan. 8, 2003, in a helicopter crash in Fallujah, Iraq. The funeral was held in Inverness, Fla.

As Tonganoxie High School Principal Mike Bogart, who had earlier announced his retirement, started his final semester, the school was reviewing applications for his position.

When the county commissioners considered enacting a $14,000 road improvement fee for new homes in rural areas, numerous builders, as well as individuals who planned to build their own homes in the country, protested.

The search was on for a new director of Leavenworth Area Development. The vacancy was created when former director Bill Schulte resigned.

A 19-year-old Tonganoxie man, Brian Ussery, was sentenced to a 60-day jail term and five years of probation for raping an intoxicated 13-year-old girl in Lawrence. Two other men were also involved in raping the girl.

Tonganoxie grade school's physical education instructor, Jeremy Goebel, was home after serving a year in the Army Reserves. Goebel had been stationed at North Carolina.


Tonganoxie Phil, also known as Dr. Philip Stevens, couldn't see his shadow at morning's light on Groundhog Day, which meant there would be an early spring.

Tonganoxie High School debaters continued a winning streak. From the state tournament in four-speaker debate, Heather Young, Tim Leffert, Heather Harrison and Katelyn Kelly brought home a first-place trophy. And, three two-speakers teams each placed fourth at state. Those teams consisted of Linsey High and Jason Smith, Levi Huseman and Jeff Gravatt, and Ben Jefferies and Garrett Kelly. Another team, Erin Holton and Jake Williams, came in 12th place.

By early February, the school district had closed for four snow days.

Tonganoxie's newest medical clinic, Family Medicine, celebrated with an open house. The physician at the clinic is Dr. William Weatherford, who recently moved to Tonganoxie with his wife, Karlye and their son, William.

A Missouri man, Raymond Boothe, was sentenced to serve 16 years in prison for the August 2002, murder of his 11-year-old son. Boothe had stabbed his son, Levi, with needle nose pliers and left the boy on the side of Interstate 70 in southern Leavenworth County.

Tonganoxie's second coin-operated laundry opened in the new shopping area at the corner of U.S. Highway 24-40 and Main Street.

Tatia Shelton was hired to serve as Tonganoxie High School's next principal. Shelton was working as an assistant principal at Garden City High School.

A Eudora man was found dead at a remote site near the railroad tracks in the southeast part of the county.

Tonganoxie school board members voted to hire Turner Construction Company to guide the district through a possible construction project. Kris Roberts, who lives in the Tonganoxie school district and works for Turner, would be involved in leading the project.

Bill Altman, president of Community National Bank, spent the day in a wheelchair. For his 50th birthday, employees provided the wheelchair, as well as plenty of black birthday balloons.

Leavenworth County Commissioner Joe Daniels announced he would not seek re-election for a second term, fulfilling a campaign promise to serve only one four-year term.

Frances Korb, 89, treated her friends by sending homemade Valentines to them.

The Tonganoxie home of Bob and Cheryl Poje was destroyed by fire, apparently started by a candle, but no one was injured in the blaze.

Once again, Steve Hughes' building trades students at Tonganoxie High School were constructing a house. This house, built on school grounds to be moved later, was custom built for the buyer.

The Mirror newspaper of Tonganoxie was named the winner in its circulation category of the Nation's Best Non-Daily Newspaper contest, sponsored by Inland Press Association. Mirror publisher Caroline Trowbridge, and news editor Lisa Scheller, traveled to Miami Beach, Fla., to accept the award.

THS students performed the comedy "The Complete History of America, Abridged." The cast included Jake Williams, Lona Dickinson, Joel Nido, Garrett Kelly, Shadoe Barton, Tabby Flaherty, Brandon Stevens and Liz Higbee.


Property values in Leavenworth County continued to rise. County Appraiser Donna Graf's office determined that residential and commercial property in the county had increased about 9 percent from the 2003 values.

It cost more to stay warm. Rates for natural gas had nearly doubled from the year before. Kansas Gas Service was billing customers at a rate of $7.34 per cubic foot of gas, up from $4.80 a year earlier.

The local Sonic restaurant, in a drive organized by Katie Brest and owner Charlie Krout, netted food to donate to the thrift shop.

An Interstate 70 traffic stop yielded a suspicious story and later, a find of 23 kilograms of cocaine. That's the equivalent of about 50.6 pounds with a street value of about $2.3 million. The occupants of the car were from Albuquerque and El Paso.

The Tonganoxie school board voted to remodel the Quonset hut by the elementary school. The building housed the school's maintenance shop and the volunteer center. The volunteer center would remain where it was, but two classrooms and a smaller room would be built in the shop area. Board members were hopeful this stop-gap measure would take care of a predicted enrollment growth.

Noah Bedell proposed to Missie Von Hallberg by putting his question on a portable sign outside Helen's Hilltop, where Missie works. Much to Bedell's delight, Missie said yes.

Former Tonganoxie Library director Beckie Borella was placed on an 18-month probation term and ordered to repay nearly $22,000 to the library. In June 2003, she was charged with one count of misuse of public funds, by diverting library dollars for personal use.

Another lively St. Patrick's parade was held, complete with leprechauns of all ages. Kay Soetaert, named the 2004 Grand Leprechaun, was the guest of honor.

A sewer line that crossed over Tonganoxie Creek was broken when the creek flooded. The line was temporarily repaired and residents were told to stay away from the creek.

A Leavenworth transgender couple, Sandy Gast and George Somers, who had been planning to celebrate a wedding or a holy union ended up in court. Sandy Gast was charged with swearing falsely to apply for a marriage license. Gast, who was 47, was a man living as a woman and was in the process of having a sex change. Somers is a man living as a woman. Current Kansas law states that marriage only can occur between a man and a woman, and citizens are based on their original gender.

A Tonganoxie father and son have teamed up to raise longhorn cattle. Mike McGraw and his son, Travis McGraw, started the herd to raise longhorn calves for Travis to rope. Now the herd has grown to 50 or more. A feature story looked at the family's long history in farming, as well as at the state of agriculture today.

Gary and Ellenor Large were awarded the Ovid Snider award for their community involvement in Linwood.

Tonganoxie 10-year-old Taylor Lawson displayed her bedroom full of Jayhawk memorabilia. Her collection even includes a dental retainer emblazoned with a Jayhawk.

THS Chieftain Singers arrived home from a Chicago area music festival with a first-place plaque for their performances.

Adam Kosanke, a 22-year-old Tonganoxie man, died in a tragic two-vehicle accident just south of the city on U.S. Highway 24-40. Also killed in the accident was 56-year-old Michael Arenson of De Soto.

Area residents participating in the 2004 Bataan Memorial Death March included Randy Davis, John Davis, Justin Smith, Jake Heskett, Doug Parrett, Michael Shaw, Derek Parrett and Bill Shaw. The event was held in White Sands, N.M.


Tonganoxie Mayor Dave Taylor requested advertising for a new city clerk, but many council members said it was unnecessary. Kathy Bard, who is the current city clerk, was appointed by former Mayor John Franiuk. Taylor questioned the legality of the appointment because it happened before he was sworn into office. Then-county attorney Mike Crow said he thought Bard still legally was the city clerk.

Two former Basehor-Linwood High School students responsible for a bomb-threat note were sentenced to one year of supervised probation. Both girls were suspended from BLHS for a full year.

Bo Pursel became the first Tonganoxie state champion on any level in wrestling after he won the Kansas state youth wrestling tournament March 28 at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka. The 9-year-old Pursel became Tonganoxie's first national champion a week later at the USA Nationals in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

After 90 minutes of discussion, council members voted, 4-1, to retain Kathy Bard as Tonganoxie city clerk.

Casey's General Store looked to move from its location at the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 24-40 and Kansas Highway 16 to the former Bitler restaurant a block north.

Basehor patrons voted down a $3.79 million bond issue for a new Basehor Community Library.

THS sophomore Marsha Cox was among 65 Girl Scouts honored with the organization's highest recognition -- the Girl Scout Gold Award.

The THS girls track team nabbed 28 medals at the Lansing Invitational on its way to the team title in the Chieftains' first meet of the season.

THS cross country and track senior Elizabeth Smith signed a letter of intent to run at Pratt Community College.

Kansas City Kansas Community College secured one national title for its debate team and went for its second at the Phi Rho Pi Junior College National Championships in Woodland Hills, Calif. John Bretthauer, a THS graduate, was a member of the Blue Devils debate team.

Holton dairy farm has been a part of the local agricultural economy for a century. Because of changing times, the Holton brothers -- Kerry, Kevin and Terrence -- auctioned 249 cattle to downsize their herd and bring in needed capital.

The body of 37-year-old Patricia L. Hicks, Olathe, was found April 21 in a pond near 147th Street and West Mary near Lansing. Olathe police and Leavenworth County sheriff's officers started a search in the county April 20 before finding the body the next day. Her husband later was charged with her murder.

The Mirror newspaper won its second consecutive Sweepstakes Award at the Kansas Press Association's annual Awards of Excellence competition, which this year was held in Overland Park.

Sunflower Broadband Channel 6 named THS senior Kelly Breuer its Scholar-Athlete of the Month for April. Breuer, who played volleyball and basketball and was on the track team at THS, also was given an Olathe Champion of Character Award.

Exchange students from Germany, Spain and Japan spent the school year in Tonganoxie. Karolin Beyer and Corinna Brunner, Germany;

Enrique Gallion, Spain; and Tim Yam of Japan spent the school year adapting to a different country.

A handful of Tonganoxie Running Club members participated in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Justin Smith placed sixth in the 25-29 age division of the just more than 26-mile race. Also competing were Debbie Zerrer, Erica Clark, Jill Rogers and Ronda Andrews. In the marathon relay, Mark Zerrer, LeRoy Andrews, Alexa Ferguson, Pam Mooberry and Mike Frye also competed.


Fire Chief Dave Bennett had a strange call one night. Bennett and three firefighters responded to a call at First and Pleasant where a cat was stuck in the attic of a duplex. After pulling a vent off the outside of the building's attic, the cat was retrieved.

The THS forensics team placed third at the Class 4A state tournament at Washburn Rural High School.

Tonganoxie needed 12 innings to outlast Perry-Lecompton in a marathon softball game. The Chieftains won, 11-10. THS actually trailed, 7-2, at one point in the game, but battled back and forced extra innings.

THS baseball coach Andy Gilner recorded his first win as a head coach in a 10-3 victory against Piper. The win snapped a 15-game losing skid for Tonganoxie.

The father of a former student filed charges May 7 in federal court against the Tonganoxie school district, alleging sexual discrimination with how the district handled sexual harassment of his son.

Longtime THS Principal Mike Bogart retired. Bogart had been the principal at THS since 1987.

Heidi Karn, a Kansas University student from McLouth, was awarded a $5,000 Larry Moore Dream Maker Scholarship. The Dream Factory gives scholarships to youth who have gone through life-altering illnesses and disabilities.

The United States Postal Service announced a location for a new post office in Basehor. The site, a two-acre tract at the northwest corner of 155th and Elm streets, will be just south of the current post office.

Debra Park, a 32-year-old Lawrence woman, was killed in a head-on collision on Kansas Highway 32 just east of Linwood. Another accident, a one-vehicle wreck west of Leavenworth, caused another fatality. Travis W. Pierron, 20, Leavenworth, lost control of his vehicle.

A total of 124 THS seniors received diplomas May 15 during commencement at Beatty Field.

After 27 years as Tonganoxie's city attorney, Mike Crow announced he was calling it quits. Crow cited that his Leavenworth-based law practice was growing and that he would become president of the Kansas Bar Association in June.

The Friends Church and parsonage at Fourth and Shawnee streets in Tonganoxie has been a part of the community since 1893, but low membership numbers could force the sale of the property.

The Tonganoxie boys track team captured its second league title in three years with a team title at the KVL Meet on its home track. THS scored 103 points, nearly 20 more than second-place Lansing. The girls team finished fourth at the league meet.

Tonganoxie fell, 3-1, to Bishop Ward in the first round of a Class 4A regional near De Soto. Senior Mollie McCaffrey finished her season a few innings early when a foul ball ricocheted and hit her in the face. The foul ball broke her nose. Tonganoxie finished the year at 10-11.

State Sen. Bob Lyon, R-Winchester, decided not to seek a second term.

The Tonganoxie school district approved a $15,500 bid to renovate the high school track at Beatty Field.

Kansas City Kansas Community College won the second of two national championships in debate with the Phi Rho Pi Junior College National Championship in Woodland Hills, Calif. The Blue Devils previously won the Cross-Examination Debate Association Junior College Division National Championship in Louisville, Ky. John Bretthauer, a THS graduate, was on the team.

Kathie Clark, a longtime teacher at Maranatha Academy in Shawnee, came out of retirement to become administrator of Genesis Christian Academy in Tonganoxie.

THS senior Shane Cooper followed his father's footsteps in signing a letter of intent to play baseball at Kansas Wesleyan in Salina. Linn Cooper played football at KWU.

Matt Scarlett was McLouth's lone state representative on the boys side of the annual track tournament. The senior placed second in the 3,200 in a Class 2A regional in Washington. On the girls side, Hallie Watson advanced from regionals in the 800. The 4x800 and 4x400 teams also advanced to state.


Sarah Hartshorn was one inch shy of a bronze medal at the State Track and Field Championships in Wichita. The sophomore threw a season-best 116-11 and placed fourth in Class 4A. Freshman Ali Pistora provided Tonganoxie's only other points. Pistora also had a fourth-place finish. Her best throw, 129-4, pushed her into fourth and also gave her a new school record.

McLouth's Matt Scarlett finished sixth at state in the 3,200 in Class 2A, but he finished about three seconds behind the top runner on the Wichita State track.

On June 27, Tonganoxie Christian Church minister Ben Saathoff completed his 29 1/2-year tenure as senior minister at the church. Assistant Dirk Scates stepped into Saathoff's role, while Saathoff became pastoral minister, a half-time position.

The 19th annual Tonganoxie Days was held June 11 and 12 throughout Tonganoxie.

Siblings Cody and Cally Owsley have become shooting enthusiasts. Both started their shooting careers in 4-H. They both also competed in the Junior Olympics, but Cody also is making noise elsewhere. He participated in a national air pistol competition and the NRA Airgun Team Champion-ships in Idaho. Cody hopes to qualify for the 2008 Olympics.

Tonganoxie liquor store owner Corky Krouse again asked city council members to consider a charter ordinance for Sunday liquor sales. In 2003, the council OK'd an ordinance, but residents against the measure successfully filed a protest petition and the ordinance died. Krouse said his business was losing $30,000 a year because area cities have approved Sunday sales.

Josh Pearson was helping a friend trim a tree when he fell from the tree and landed 20 feet below on a deer lawn ornament. The left side of Pearson's head, just below the temple, landed on the deer's antlers. Pearson pulled the antlers from the side of his head and was taken to Overland Park Regional Medical Center's trauma unit. Pearson recovered from the accident, but doctors told Josh's parents, Steve and Pat, that if the antler would have penetrated another half-inch, Josh would have been paralyzed or dead.

A charter ordinance for Sunday liquor sales in Tonganoxie again was denied. The measure could not nab the required super-majority vote of the council and the issue was ruled dead.

John Volk threw a no-hitter in a five-inning game as Tonganoxie Post 41 recorded an 8-0 shutout against Leavenworth Post 23 in American Legion baseball action.

Tonganoxie's Nick Stein participated in the Pigskin Classic in Hawaii. The 2004 THS graduate played for the Kansas all-stars, who defeated teams from Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa and Georgia on their way to a tournament title.

Mary Frances and Harold Krull were glued to the television as they watched the funeral of former President Ronald Reagan. The rural Tonganoxie couple attended the 1980 inauguration of the former president.

Kyle Norris won the Tonganoxie Days Friends of the Library 10K run with a time of 36 minutes, 39 seconds.

Derek Sparks, a 2004 THS graduate, played in the Border Battle, an all-star game for Kansas and Missouri metro area players. Sparks was one of 26 players chosen by the Kansas City Metro Baseball Coaches Association.

Tonganoxie teacher Bill Shaw retired from teaching at TJHS, but the longtime instructor still will coach high school track. And, he planned to teach in the De Soto school district.

Tonganoxie's population is booming. During the three years since the last federal census, Tonganoxie's growth was reported at 21 percent. That makes it one of the fastest-growing cities in the state.

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